Note from Editor: Students are reading Anne Allison’s book Precarious Japan, and sharing their thoughts on how their own future plans are impacted by the instability and insecurity that Allison describes.
Anonymous student post
My academic interest in the IR field is peace and conflict studies, post- conflict peace-building, and the Middle East. One of my future dreams is to give peace education and human resource development for children in conflict areas by offering some artwork and developing it into critical thinking. In order to do so, I need to improve my own knowledge and skills. Therefore, I am planning to study abroad at the post-graduate school of London University, SOAS, after graduating from Ritsumeikan University. I have not decided yet whether to take a framework-making approach such as working for an international organization, or a grassroots approach, such as local staff of a NGO. However, in either way, certain period of work experience in companies is likely to be required, therefore I would once get a job in a company to have some social experience.
I think one phenomenon that Anne Alison pointed out in her book Precarious Japan, women’s social advancement in the workforce, might affect my plan at this stage. According to the statistics of the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, 34.2 percent of Japanese women (one in three single women) aged 15-39 wishes to be a housewife. Similarly, survey conducted by the cabinet office shows that 51 percent of Japanese people answered that it is ideal for men to work outside as a breadwinner and women to be a housewife. This number increased by 20 points, compared to the number of the survey in 2009, among the age of 20 to 30 years old.
This tendency is due to the despairing situation for female workers to develop a career steadily in their jobs, and the recent economic stagnation. According to Anne Alison (2013), irregular workers are those who are the most precarious in Japanese society because they have minimal rights and protection, and can easily get fired. Women make up 70 percent of irregular workers, and have the worst status by experiencing the worst gendered disparity of all industrialized countries.
Although Japanese society is becoming a result-based employment, women suffer from likewise disadvantage of employment even in regular employment and full-time work. It is based on underlying sexually biased premise that men are the breadwinner and women stay home as a housewife (Alison, 2013). They only earn about 67 percent of men’s salary and around 80 percent of working women makes less than 3,000,000 yen a year. Also, 44 percent of working women receive less than the minimum wage of the year and the number of women staying in professional jobs is remarkably low. The percentage of women having managerial posts is considerably low as well. Moreover, 80 percent of women workers retire after giving birth to her first child (Allison, 2013).
In conclusion, when I look at this current situation, I guess it may be very hard for me to get a highly paid secure job and advance my career in a company, especially when I am planning to ultimately move out and change my job to work in international cooperation. Therefore I have anxiety about whether I could successfully become economically independent from my parents and pursue my dreams at the same time. In other words, I have to work very hard not become a parasite single.
Alison, A. (2013). Precarious Japan. Duke University press.
Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. (March, 2013). Wakamono no ishiki ni kansuru chousa [statistic on youth’s consciousness survey]. Retrieved fromhttp://www.mhlw.go.jp/file/04-Houdouhappyou-12605000-Seisakutoukatsukan- Seisakuhyoukakanshitsu/0000022200.pdf
Gender Equality Bureau cabinet Office. (April,2012). Dansei ni totte no danjo kyoudousannka [Survey of male’s consciousness on gender equality].Retrieved from http://www.gender.go.jp/research/kenkyu/dansei_ishiki/pdf/chapter_1.pdf